Spellerberg Projects

Sherwin Rivera Tibayan, Into the Middle Distance

Exhibition • October 14–November 4, 2023

Gallery hours
Saturday, October 14, 11am-3pm
Saturday, October 21, 11am-3pm
Saturday, October 28, 11am-3pm
Friday, November 3, 6–9pm – Artist’s Reception
Saturday, November 4, 11am-3pm – Last Look

Artist’s Statement

“Into the Middle Distance” is an ongoing body of photographic prints and arrangements that began with a personal collection of images of the American west taken in 2013 and rediscovered during months at home in 2020. Newer images join the archive and become opportunities to measure and address the distance between my feelings and beliefs—those I held dear to then and those I try to affirm now—about what happens when I attempt to photograph the American landscape, its nature, and the content of its built environment.

In trying to make sense of all these images—each of which I had only narrowly understood as individual moments where I tried to exploit photography’s capacity to aestheticize vastness, emptiness, and ruin in order to explore personal feelings of estrangement and belonging as a first generation immigrant in the United States—I found that the pain and limitation of any one picture could be refracted, reduced, and reshaped when placed in community with others.

This process has resulted in a newfound commitment to modestly-sized photographic prints that I can make at home; a movement away from singular images towards diptychs, triptychs, and larger formal arrangements to build works; and most consequentially, to thinking about how such arrangements and connected visual affinities might help me access more expansive and collectively oriented meanings.

Sometimes photographic images, when theories of seeing and understanding are applied to them, are structured to feel like the experience of looking at a view through a window, onto the world, or as a reflection seen in a mirror, onto the self. I think photography is constructed more like a wall than a window. A wall is always an obstruction, always aggregated and opaque, and so a thing that can periodically give shade. Resting in the coolness of that shadow, I have time to wonder if this wall might also be a balm and bulwark against loneliness and isolation.

About the Artist

Sherwin Rivera Tibayan (Philippines, 1982) is a photographer based in Austin, Texas, who uses formal strategies of repetition, multiplicity, and obstruction in order to make the infrastructures (material, institutional, psychological) that support the ever accumulating ways we are asked to make, interpret, experience, and use photography, the subjects of his works.

His projects have gained recognition from Photolucida, the Magenta Foundation, and the Houston Center for Photography. He has participated in artist residencies with the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Triple Canopy, and A.C.R.E. In 2021 he exhibited two bodies of work in Austin: a solo show at the City of Austin’s Asian American Cultural Resource Center (“Filipino American Navy”) and as part of the The Contemporary Austin’s “Crit Group Reunion” (“Balikbayan”).